The expectation that political progress would bring stability has been fundamental to the Bush administration's approach to rebuilding Iraq as well as a central theme of White House rhetoric to convince the American public that its policy in Iraq remains on course.
But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence data have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and any progress in reducing insurgent attacks...
Robert Malley, who co-wrote a September report by the International Crisis Group concluding that approval of the constitution could make things worse, called the administration's Iraq policy "a case study of pinning too much hope on an electoral process without doing so much of the other work."
And it isn't just American analysts reaching the same conclusion, as one prominent Iraqi politician has unfortunately pegged what looks like the most likely outcome of next weekend's vote:
"If the constitution passes in a non-amicable way, the violence will increase," said Ali Dabagh, an Iraqi National Assembly member who is believed to be close to Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari.
There shouldn't be much doubt that whatever terms may be used to describe next weekend's vote, "amicable" won't be close to the mark.
While negotiations are still ongoing to try to remove at least a few of the ongoing constitutional disputes (how many "final drafts" of the proposed constitution are we at now?), there can't be much doubt that a good number of Iraqis are unhappy with any draft that could realistically be produced. And some know exactly who's pushing the process forward ahead of any reasonable expectation of success:
"We're short of time — it's the fault of the Americans," Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman said. "They are always insisting on short deadlines. It's as if they're [making] hamburgers and fast food."
Unfortunately, the constitutional process seems to have had a far less healthy effect than even the greasiest burger imaginable. And Bush and his inner circle may be the last people alive who honestly believe it's good for Iraq.